On the uselessness of political media, part #7682

Walking and eating through my first New Orleans trip last weekend, I kept matters low-key on the blog side. I meant what I said to readers in January about my stepping back; not every shiver in the consciousness of the world requires an HTV answer. But between hurried changes of clothes in my hotel room and a dinner summons, I kept cable news simmering as background noise. I did pause for updates on the presidential election in France, where the rather oleaginous incumbent faced off against a cold, assured neo-fascist who was also the daughter of a cold, assured neo-fascist. On learning about Macron’s eye-popping vote percentage totals, I expected more, well, exaltation?

In “The Real Meaning of Emmanuel Macron’s Victory,” Adam Gopnik shakes his head over the Beltway press coverage:

The degree to which the American press—and, to be sure, segments of the French—insists on casting his victory as a kind of moral defeat, is genuinely bewildering. In this country, one would have to go back to such historical—and for some of us, still painful—landslides as Nixon over McGovern and Reagan over Mondale to find equivalents of Macron’s seventeen-per-cent spread in the popular vote. It’s true that some voters chose Macron only because they hated his opponent, but this can be said of every candidate to high office in a democracy. Many Trump voters were lifelong Republicans who couldn’t bring themselves ever to vote for a Democrat, and no one claims that Joe Biden was swept into office on a swell of personal enthusiasm. For that matter, many Le Pen voters likely voted for her because they couldn’t stand Macron. The can’t-stand-the-other-guy vote, the grudging hold-your nose-vote, is one way that democracies are supposed to work.

The NBC or MSNBC reporter, I can’t remember which network, ladled the news with so many equivocations he might have been recording his State Department application video. I actually heard him say something like, “Yet this isn’t all good news for Macron — Le Pen’s totals show a surging far right movement in Europe.” Well, yeah. If as a law student I pass the bar exam, I might die of cancer anyway. In yesterday’s Macron analysis, the NYT reporter wrote, “It is clear, however, that the 13.3 million people who voted for Ms. Le Pen constitute far too large a group to be ignored.” No expert on Gaullist politics, I respond: with such a resounding victory, why can’t he ignore a “constituency” that’s a pathology? The invaluable New York Times Pitchbot nailed the tendency in could-be-a-parody tweet:

Steel yourselves for November 2024 should Dems keep the Senate.

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